Last month, Mojave National Preserve, National Park Trust and Chevron celebrated the formal transfer of ownership of the new Ivanpah Desert Tortoise Research Facility to the National Park Service. Located on seven acres adjacent to the Preserve, the solar-powered facility and its outdoor dens are being used to hatch, study and protect the threatened desert tortoise. The facility was constructed in 2011 but the National Park Service could not take ownership until extensive due diligence — and a boundary adjustment to the Preserve — were all completed. But that delay risked two generations (cohorts) of desert tortoises that could otherwise be hatched and released at the facility. Officials at Mojave National Preserve asked if NPT could help. In response, NPT reached an agreement with Chevron that would allow the Trust to manage the facility as interim steward while researchers from the University of California, Davis and the Savannah River Ecology Lab (GA) conducted their research. Chevron also has donated funds to NPT that are being used to fund tortoise research at the facility over several years.
“We are indebted to the National Park Trust for enabling this complex transaction. Without their help we would have been unable to accept the facility or maintain the research being conducted there. We look forward to working with the Trust in the future on desert tortoise recovery and our many other mutual interests,” stated Superintendent Stephanie Dubois.
While NPT served as the interim steward of the facility, two cohorts of tortoises were successfully hatched, and research to help the juveniles survive is now being conducted. “NPT has again showed its agility and trustworthiness in helping to meet the goals of the Park Service and keep the doors open for this threatened species,” stated board member Ray Sherbill.
A formal dedication of this new facility is planned by the NPS in early September.